Disaster-Planning Revealing My Own Priorities — not what you might expect

There was a flash flood warning yesterday.  Like, they actually said, “Flash flooding expected to begin shortly.”  Luckily, nothing really happened other than some debris on the roads.

I live in the flood plain of my state’s highest risk flood zone.  It’s just a matter of time before a microburst hits in exactly the right place up one of the canyons and all that water comes rushing down out onto the front range to wreak havoc.  Maybe tomorrow, maybe not for decades to come.

It’s not something that keeps me up at night.  But it is something I’ve thought about.

Is it weird to in some ways think how great it would be if all your possessions were destroyed and you had to start over?  To be forced to get rid of stuff you’ve been holding onto.  To reprioritize what you actually need.  To embrace minimalism.

Maybe I’m just weird…

A few years ago I was thinking about flooding a bit more than usual.  We’d had a lot of snow so the creeks were especially high during spring runoff.  A microburst can hit at any time regardless of the runoff levels, but I somehow it still made me think more about my flash flood risk.

If a flood hit my place wouldn’t be under water, but it could very likely have a foot or two of water on the floor*.  That summer I put a few “irreplaceable” items on top of the kitchen cabinets — my favorite drawings as an undergraduate, the only existing picture of my great-grandfather with whom I share a name, my teddy bear and baby blanket.  If I lost any of these I would be sad, but it wouldn’t be devastating.

Looking around everything else I conceded that replacing everything would be annoying, but I could easily get a new computer, new sofa, new bike, make new art for the walls.  But as I wandered around looking at things I was shocked to realize there is something that, while replaceable, would really upset me if lost: my clothes.

For someone who’s not at all a fashionista, gets most of her clothes from places like Target and Old Navy, and doesn’t even have too many clothes (more now than when I did this post, but still not many — I don’t think?) this may come as a shock.  It certainly came as a shock to me that I valued my wardrobe so much.  But as I rearranged every dress and pair of pants to have at least 18 inches of floor clearance* I thought about it more and realized why I cared about my wardrobe.

I hate clothes shopping.  As this article clearly puts it, women’s clothes suck.  And shopping for women’s clothes sucks.  So finding something that fits and you like the color/pattern and flatters your shape and is comfortable and makes you feel fantastic when you wear it is a minor miracle.  

Once I was browsing online and happened to see a dress that somehow without even trying on I just knew would work with my shape, and I went to the store the same day to see it in person.  (Because even so I’m not brave enough to buy clothes online without trying them on.  Some women are skinny AND have hips, designers!)  There was one left in the store, and it just happened to be in the right size, and fit perfectly, and it was a very good day.

Maybe it’s because my wardrobe IS small and I wear everything in it regularly (weather permitting).  It’s only filled with things that get worn often and/or are very much loved.  I’ll have to do a follow-up tour since it’s been two years since that last post.

Certainly I have some items in my closet that could be easily replaced (I’ve got my jeans size and style nailed down at Old Navy so I can grab those off the shelf), but others probably not.

Like my goes-with-everything-and-fits-great pencil skirt.

Or my so-comfortable-it’s-like-wearing-pajamas maxi skirt.

Or the tank top I picked up from Target without much thought but found is soft, comfortable, drapes well, and is long enough.

Or my ten-year-old pair of slacks that still fit absolutely perfectly and I will cry when they finally fall apart one day.

Or pretty much all of my dresses.  Like this dress I randomly found a few months ago for $15 and is my. favorite. dress. ever. and gets worn at least every other week.  Love the color, love the fit, love the drape, makes me feel awesome even when a photographer’s in my face.


(I know, I know, you all wish you were as photogenic as me.  Especially in that third photo.)

So here’s to my wardrobe!  I raise my hypothetical glass to you.  You are very much loved and would be very much missed if you had to be replaced!

*Realistically, the biggest property-damage problem with a flash flood might be something more like be trees and cars being picked up and pushed through walls or the resulting post-flood mold levels rather than stuff just getting wet.  But moving things up higher up at least gave me a feeling of doing something proactive even if they may not actually be that helpful.  And no, I don’t want to move; there’s no such thing as a place to live that completely safe from disasters, natural or otherwise.  And even though losing my things — even my wardrobe — would really suck and make me sad, ultimately they’re just things and even the “irreplaceable” things wouldn’t take away from the memories.  And yes, I do have some immediate personal-safety flooding plans, too (lots of notice – evacuate; moderate notice – up the stairwells of the five-story brick-and-concrete building nearby; worst case – upper floor of my own building).  

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